COVID-19 Lockdowns Present Major Challenges to Rehab Patients

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As personal injury lawyers, the Neinstein legal team often partners with medical and rehabilitative service providers, including occupational and physiotherapists, to give our clients an inside track to recovery. When a person suffers a catastrophic injury, it may take many months of diligent effort to recover a sense of independence. In- and out-patient rehabilitation programs are essential to this process; unfortunately, many of these programs have been temporarily closed by the massive lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the Toronto Star spoke to injury victims and rehab professionals about the consequences of the hiatus.

Perhaps the most predictable outcome of the lockdowns from a rehabilitation perspective is that patients’ recoveries have slowed to a crawl. The Star interviewed Richard Ansell, who lost the ability to walk after contracting an illness. He exited the in-patient program at Toronto Rehab Institute’s Lyndhurst Centre in late March, and was scheduled to proceed with several months of out-patient therapy.

“I would have liked to be on a golf course, hitting golf balls,” Ansell said. “Walking normally. Doing housework.”

Instead, his mobility remains severely limited.

“I missed out on a lot of manipulation of that right leg to strengthen it up,” he added.

Another consequence is a massive new backlog of patients. Some were already scheduled for out-patient therapy, others have been injured during the pandemic, and some are recovering from serious bouts of COVID-19.

“I think rehab needs to be seen as part of an essential service, as part of the pandemic response,” Charissa Levy, head of the Rehabilitative Care Alliance and executive director of the GTA Rehab Network, told the Star. “You’ll hear people talking about a second wave of the pandemic coming in the fall. The impact of the pandemic, and the need for rehab is being characterized as one of those upcoming waves that has yet to be seen.”

Like most of Ontario’s personal injury lawyers, many rehabilitation professionals turned to virtual alternatives to provide as much care as possible.

“We did our best in the last couple of months … to stay connected to patients and supporting patients in the community and in their homes,” said Shawn Brady, director of rehab at Providence Healthcare in Toronto. “But obviously, the nature of therapy and rehabilitation (is that) many of the interventions are physical in nature, and require in-person visits as well.”

This is particularly true for some of Ontario’s most seriously injured accident victims, including those suffering from spinal cord injuries.

“For people with spinal cord injury, who have no or limited voluntary movement, the remote rehab model doesn’t really work well,” said Dr. Cathy Craven, medical director of the spinal cord rehab program at the Lyndhurst Centre. “I’m concerned about our growing waitlist, and our ability to scale up and serve everyone once we are open.”

With so much uncertainty still surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic – caseloads are rising in many wealthy nations and a vaccine remains unavailable – it is difficult to predict the long-term fallout for accident victims requiring out-patient rehab. In the meantime, injury victims can rest assured that Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is prepared to take on their case.

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, contact Neinstein today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.


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Greg Neinstein, B.A. LLB., is the Managing Partner at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers LLP. His practice focuses on serious injury and complex insurance claims, including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, long-term disability claims and insurance claims. Greg has extensive mediation and trial experience and has a reputation among his colleagues as a skillful negotiator.
Greg Neinstein
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